TOKYO: A strong earthquake hit north-eastern Japan yesterday morning, just hours after an earlier temblor, injuring more than 200 people and causing landslides and blackouts, police said.
But there were no reported fatalities from the earthquake, centred in Miyagi prefecture, and had an estimated magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale. Weaker aftershocks shook the region repeatedly.
Two people were buried in a landslide in Kanancho, but were soon rescued. Authorities warned that heavy rains the night before raised the risk of more landslides.
Around 266 people were injured, but only two seriously, a Miyagi police spokesman said.
About 130,000 homes temporarily lost power and train services in the area were halted, NHK national television said. One train carrying about 10 people was derailed but no injuries were reported.
The quake affected a swathe of northeast Japan, a mostly rural area with a few large cities and some high-tech firms.
There were no reports of damage at the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi or at nuclear plants in nearby Fukushima prefecture, also shaken by the quake.
Around 50 houses were damaged in the mountainous town of Nangocho in northern Miyagi prefecture, a local official said, adding that some residents had been evacuated to a local school.
”There was a really huge shake,” one middle-aged woman told NHK. “I didn't know what was going on. Now the house is a mess.”
Television footage showed a wooden house collapsed amid scattered ceramic roof tiles. Concrete walls around the yards of other houses had crumbled.
A quake estimated at 7.0 on the Richter scale struck Miyagi on May 26.
Yesterday's earthquake, although of lower magnitude, was much shallower, with an epicentre 10km deep.
“Based on what happened May 26, I think we can expect the damage to be about the same or a little more,” Yoshitada Konoike, minister of disaster management, told a news conference.
The quake, which could be felt here, followed another strong temblor in the same area. That quake, which hit shortly after midnight, measured 5.5 on the Richter scale and reportedly injured 11 people.
A meteorological agency official said there were no links between yesterday's earthquakes and the so-called Miyagi-oki earthquake, which had hit the region cyclically every 30 to 40 years and last struck in 1978, killing 28 people.
“This earthquake appears to have taken place in a different area from the Miyagi-oki quakes,” the official said. – Reuters